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9,000 post offices could close under government plans

3rd May 2011

Government plans to sell Royal Mail which end the inter-business agreement with the Post Office would lead to over 9,000 post office closures, a poll of sub-postmasters commissioned by the Communication Workers Union reveals.

Sub-postmasters believe by nine to one (92 per cent) that they could not survive without Royal Mail business, but the current Postal Services Bill does not include this vital link. Up to 9,360 post offices could close according to poll results. In addition, 89 per cent of sub-postmasters say they would be unlikely to continue to run their post office under government plans to roll-out a 'Locals' model and 90 per cent say they have no confidence in the government to return services to the Post Office.

The poll of 800 sub-postmasters and mistresses asked whether they thought their local post office could survive without Royal Mail business, as the government is refusing to guarantee a business agreement between a privatised Royal Mail and the Post Office. An astonishing 92 per cent (741 people) thought their post office was either very unlikely or unlikely to survive without mails business provided by Royal Mail. Less than 1 per cent (seven people) said they would be very likely to survive.

When asked about the effect of the government's move to a 'Post Office Local' model - a reduced-service Post Office franchise offering minimum services and a reduction of 55 per cent of income - 89 per cent of sub-postmasters (712 people) said they would be either very unlikely or unlikely to continue to run their post office. On this basis, 9,054 post offices would close nationwide. Less than 1 per cent (5 people) said they would be very likely to continue.

Following the government's removal of the £400 million 'green giro' contract, sub-postmasters are not confident that the government will put services into the Post Office. 90 per cent of sub-postmasters (720 people) have no or little confidence in the government to return services to local post offices like theirs. Only 1.6 per cent (13 people) were very confident that the government would return services.

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Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: "These figures clearly demonstrate the fears of sub-postmasters and mistresses about the fate of our cherished post office network.

"Based on these projections, the post office network faces a greater threat than anyone previously dared believe. Even the warnings of postal watchdog Consumer Focus - which warned last month that 2,000 offices could close under the Post Office Locals plan - fall short.

"Through the privatisation of Royal Mail, refusal to guarantee business and the removal of government contracts, the government is failing post offices. It must listen to the opinions of those who work in the Post Office and decide whether the threat of mass closures is something it wants on its hands. Sub-postmasters will vote with their feet if the erosion of services and support continues and that will have a devastating impact on communities across the country."